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Saints Need To Sign Central Defender In January Window
Monday, 28th Dec 2020 11:06

If Jannik Vestergaard is out for the nest five weeks as Ralph Hasenhuttl has suggested he could miss as many as 8 Premier League games in that time, Saints need to bring in a new face at the back in January.

A look at the league fixtures in the next month or so shows that starting with the game against West Ham and ending with the trip to Newcastle on February 6th, we have 8 Premier League fixtures in a little over 5 weeks and that doesn't include at least one, potentially two FA Cup games to squeeze in.

This means by the first week in February including the Boxing Day game we will have squeezed in a quarter of the season in a 6 week period.

For Saints there are going to be injury management issues in this period and already we are having a mini crisis.

But the biggest issue won't be getting and keeping Danny Ings fit, it will be replacing Jannik Vestergaard at the back, Jack Stephens came in against Fulham and did ok, but he was no where near the standards that Vestergaard has set of late, there is no doubting that Stephens can come in and do a job when needed, but his problem is that he has never found the consistency needed over a 38 game season, he is a good stand in player and every squad needs players like that, but as he approaches the 4th anniversary of his debut he has only averaged around 20 starts a season and there is a reason for that.

Stephens has a place in the Saints squad and he has already contributed this season, but I can't say that he is the man to hold the back four together over a prolonged period of games, before you start reminding me about the games in the re start, lets be blunt, they were good results, but we had a lot of luck, indeed we could have been 2-0 down in the opening game at Norwich in the first 15 mins.

At Fulham we gave them a couple of chances where they were unmarked and should have scored, we went back to old habits.

But if Stephens isn't the answer then is Mohammed Salisu, a man who has yet to play a minute of football even for the B side, he seems to be highly rated, but at Fulham Stephens was preferred because he is more of a ball player than Salisu as well as his experience.

This being the case will Salisu be the answer ? possibly not.

A third option would be to revert to a back three, Ralph Hasenhuttl has tried this before but with limited success, but he might be considering it now, both from his current needs in the back four, but injury issues elsewhere.

A reshuffle enabling him to utilise his fullbacks in a more attacking option along with a central trio of JWP, Romeu and Diallo with two front players might be an option given that with Nathan Redmond out injured, wide options are limited with Theo Walcott perhaps needing to be pushed up front.

But all of these are not tried and trusted options and that means that we still need to consider bringing someone else into the centre of defence., this doesn't have to be a permanent deal, but perhaps a loan deal for an experienced central defender out of favour at his current club.

With the possibility of at least half a dozen games in the starting line up and potentially more, it would surely be an attractive proposition to a fair few squad players in the Premier League at the moment.

Eric Garcia at Manchester City would fit the bill, but he looks likely to join Barcelona, Marcos Rojo at Manchester United could be another option and there are plenty of other players who could be looking to go out on loan this January.

A loan option therefore would be good for both Saints and the players themselves.

Signing a player like this nearing the end of their career would not be a backward step, it would be a positive one given it would be short term and would bring in much needed experience to the back line, the Saints way has always been about mixing youth with experience and we have missed a leader at the back since Jose Fonte decided his future lay elsewhere.

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derbydog added 13:09 - Dec 28
Just not something we do. Salisu now or never will be the most likely option, no point in spending that kind of money and not finding out how good he is. If we wanted someone else’s cast-offs we have one of our own coming back in if we want him in Hoedt. Just say to him show us we were wrong about you. Simples...

codge added 13:16 - Dec 28
Salisu will not start a game until the game in the FA cup period.

underweststand added 13:17 - Dec 28
OK we're back to CB's. Without Vestergaard we have 2 recognised CB's PLUS Salisu who is still some sort of unknown quantity - despite the fact we've paid £11 million for him !

IF we get any more injuries in that area and Salisu isn't the real thing - we're in the sh*t.
So if we have another likely signing - let's get him ASAP (providing he meets the Saints height qualification of min. 6' 4" and is left-footed). Please don't suggest Hoedt.

I can't see Ralph reverting to 3-5-1 , which hasn't been so bad - on occasions, but if so - I would play Diallo again - not instead of Romeu but in place of Armstrong - who just isn't on form at present.

Now about that other issue of "another striker ".............


TimSaint added 13:18 - Dec 28
Deja vu ?
We need a centre back ?
Sounds just like the last 7 or 8 transfer windows !! :-)

underweststand added 13:22 - Dec 28
P.S. about that saying you can never have too much of a good thing .....If we sign someone else we must ask ourselves ....Is 4 enough?
I recall 2005 season...we had 5 recognised CB's ALL injured at the same time....that's when Chris Baird got his chance...and didn't he do well.

Ali_Diarea added 13:28 - Dec 28
I can’t see us bringing anyone in in the next transfer window. The whole point of having two players for each position (something Ralph says we have at present) is to cover injuries and suspension.

The problem we have (and have had for a long time) is that our ‘B’ team (Stephens, Salisu, Obafemi, Long) aren’t good enough to be consistent starters in the prem league.

Scrappy2020 added 14:29 - Dec 28
I worry about our ability to score goals never mind the centre backs,two and a half games without a goal,30 mins against a poor Arsenal side with 10 men and 90 mins against Fulham,we need someone to help Che upfront,LIVERPOOL,LEEDS,LEICESTER,ARSENAL,ASTON VILLA,MAN U,if we can't score against Fulham,how are we going to end up in Febuary?

SanMarco added 14:30 - Dec 28
Sometimes things are simple. Is Salisu better than Srephens? If he isn't then I am not sure why we bought him, if he is then why isn't he playing? Perhaps he will play tomorrow? If he doesn't play tomorrow then Nick's headline statement has only one answer: YES!!

andywelsh added 16:58 - Dec 28
Hassenhuttl has been quite clear why Salisu hasn’t played. First he was injured and then he had to build fitness and learn how to play our way. Like Diallo he is only twenty one and has a lot of developing and improving to do. Is he better than Stephens now, possibly not. Is he expected to become better than Stephens, definitely. The club is being set up to buy raw talent and develop it under a head coach who loves working that way. I don’t understand quite why this approach is so difficult for some to get their heads around.

SaintPaulVW added 18:32 - Dec 28
I don't think there will be a new recruit. There are other priorities plus it would take any new recruit weeks to get up to speed. By which time JV would be back. Why would we then want 3 reserves sat on the bench for 2 positions. Teams operate with non first choices and players out of position all the time.

Having been blown away by his performances this year, I wish JV had been given longer to settle in rather than being played straight away. So waiting to get Salisu fully up to speed doesn't raise any suspicions for me. Just need to hold our nerve a bit longer.


A1079 added 20:16 - Dec 28
As Timsaint put it, how many seasons and transfer windows now without resolving the defence problems. But, oddly my concern is our lack of ability to score goals. It has been woeful again recently. We have a good recognised striker in Ings but he is now showing his injury frailties and looks like being more unavailable than available. Adams for all his hard work isn't producing consistently enough where it matters and anyone else, be it Obafemi, Redmond, Djenepo et al are a goal every so often at best. This places more pressure on the area that this article was originally about - the defence.

We will be ok and I think we will finish between 8th and 12th but these 2 key areas will this season at least stop us providing a sustained threat at the top end of the table.

davidargyll added 20:39 - Dec 28
I would be amazed if RH signs anybody in the January window after his comment on Sky today saying that he has 2/3 players for every position and it would be unlikley in his view if he does. I always thought these discussions about "We've definitely got to sign XYZ" to be silly because of the time required to get a new recruit playing in our style negates the arguable benefit in buying him and simply isn't Ralph's style, Theo being the honourable exception.

perazi added 22:08 - Dec 28
A familiar report about how bad Stephens is - and before that it was Yoshida who wasn't up to the mark. Everyone knows Jack Stephens isn't the best CB in the League but he did well against Fulham and made the draw saving block at the end of the game. He will fill in again against West Ham, and so he should. I'm also confident Salisu will be given his chance against Shrewsbury and will be an asset for Saints as time goes on. There's no way a CB will be brought in this January.
Of greater concern is the fitness of Ings - being forced to play Shane Long as a starting forward is a bigger calamity than Stephens filling in at CB. With Redmond also injured and Armstrong's form patchy, I worry much more about where the goals are going to come from rather than how many we concede.

ElijahK added 22:46 - Dec 28
I mean everyone’s going on about us signing a centre back, but there are many more positions in which we need players more desperately in than CB! I mean right now we’ve got Bednerak being one and the other being Vestergarrd, either of which can be replaced by Stephens, Salisu or even recalling someone from loan like Hoedt! Yet we’re all going on about getting another when they’ll only have like a fortnite before Vestergaard is back! I mean if Salisu isn’t an option then why we paid 10 mill for him just baffles me! So really we’ve got two options there with Stephens and Salisu, so that’s certainly not what I’m worried about!

I mean with fullbacks or strikers is were I’m more nervous about, seeing that Bertrand is starting to struggle with doing both his defensive and attacking roles, and yeah KWP may be doing absolutely great, but what happens if either gets injured! I mean we’ve just got youth (Vodkins and Valery) to replace them! And with the striking options, Adams is doing better as time goes on but as Ings keeps getting injured we always seem to be missing someone upfront! I mean all we’ve got in replacement for those two is Long (who’s only ever that good of an option anymore when we need to keep the score the same, which isn’t what a main striker is needed for!), or just a few youth players! I mean I think that those two are needed more (another striker should be our main priority though) before looking for a new centre back as it’s only our options in midfield and goal that I think is better than centre back at the current moment.

Sadoldgit added 08:53 - Dec 29
Stephens is ok as a bench player but really shouldn’t be playing in several games on the trot if we are serious for pushing for Europe. The block he made against Fulham gets talked about a lot but that is the simplest part of the game. Most of us here could throw ourselves in front of a shot. The thing to remember is that Fulham found space in front of goal and with decent finishing would have buried us. He just doesn’t have the awareness needed of the players around him. Can he come off the bench and do a job if needed, yes. Should he be playing in the next 5 or 6 games when we need some wins, I’d rather he didn’t. As regards Salisu, I get that he needs to learn how we play but am surprised that it takes so long. It isn’t exactly rocket science and they work on it every day in training. Surely the best way to get him up to speed would be to give him a run in the B team? It is crazy that we still haven’t fixed our CH problems and if it weren’t for a massive improvement in form by Jannik this season it would still be the major talking point every week.

underweststand added 10:17 - Dec 29
Agree with... sadoldgit (above) on his assessment of Stephens..good to have in the squad but not a serious contender to replace JV or JB. So it has to be down to how Salisu shows up - whenever he does play. Sadly the B side have very few fixtures at this time of the year (last game Dec.12 th and the next is.... January 10th)...
If Salisu is being " saved" for the Cup game v. L1 side Shrewsbury, most can predict that but we have today's game and Liverpool before and Stephens is the only/ obvious candidate.

TimSaint added 12:10 - Dec 29
Much has been said about that block from Stephens. It was a great piece of defending, but he was really close to the ball anyway, so it was a block that any defender would be expected to make.
The issue I had with Jack was for that free header he gifted Fulham in the 2nd half, from about the penalty spot. He failed to pick up his man, in fact he actually started running away from the guy to give him more space !! With Bednarek already draw across to cover the right back area, Jack should have stayed central and pick up the man he was originally tracking.

Oh well, we got away with it, so no harm done, but against more lethal opposition, we will be punished.

I read on some forum or chat that someone wanted Jack to replace Romeu for the Fulham game - and to be fair, he could probably do a job as a holding midfielder - but I guess that was before they knew that Vest was injured.

If we sign anyone, then I heard we were after Demarai Gray. Previously linked with him, contract expiring this summer, type of player RH could get a tune out of, cheaper than Theo (unless he wants to join us and take a pay cut ?), then we could have 2 x ex-Birmingham City wingers and a Striker on the pitch at the same time !! :-)

erick added 13:23 - Dec 29
We need a creative outlet more. A defender last option. A left back, 10,

underweststand added 14:08 - Dec 30
Fans who are so quick to complain that the club doesn't have "instant replacements " when a regular player is injured, need to look at our history of Academy lads who have gone onto other things. Historically, the hardest positions for Saints to fill have been ; (1) goalies (2) CB's and (3) strikers.

Amongst those who moved on; Bridge, Baird, Walcott, Bale, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaw, Chambers, Lallana, Targett and Reed were either full backs or midfielders. Of those who are currently with the club only Ward-Prowse and Stephens have nailed down a career with us, but no strikers or goalies ...and Stephens is a rare exception to survive as a CB.

With the current injury to Vestergaard on everyone's thoughts where are the "B team " substitutes ?.. Apparently, no-one has made it to the club's satisfaction. Most recently, Christoph Klarer (now in Germany) and Alfie Jones moved to Hull, and so we are back with the same dilemma ....no suitable young CB's, not a prospect of another top class goalie ..and very few strikers even get on the bench... let alone come on and score.

A handful of Prem. goalies have made their way through other Prem. clubs Academies; Henderson and Johnstone immediately come to mind, and Chelsea seem to have had a conveyor belt of strikers ... but we have none to boast of at St.Mary's.

I 'm not looking to diminish the efforts of the current squad, or the scouting staff whose job it is to find new talent, but sadly we have to admit that finding an immediate sub. in an emergency is a hard task, and unlikely to be solved in the near future.

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